Md. can't cave to Penn National, Magna

The Maryland Racing Commission and the horse community are right: The Maryland Jockey Club, MI Development and Penn National have no commitment to racing ("Preakness at risk," Dec. 1). MID, a real estate firm, just wants to commercially develop Laurel Park. Penn National just wants to protect its casino at Charles Town and maybe get another casino by threatening to end Maryland racing. Success at Laurel would threaten these interests, so no wonder it is failing.

Racing dates belong to the state. The racing commission should tell the jockey club that the state is going to reclaim and reallocate all racing days that it is not going to use.

The state already owns a horse racing track at Timonium where it could use these dates. It should command a proportional share of slots-generated purse and facilities subsidies and apply them to racing at the fairgrounds.

Granted, this is not an ideal venue, but racing is not being supported for the fans. It is only supported to benefit the wealthy, politically powerful horse farm owners. All they care about are the purses, not the attendance. Either alone or in partnership with private investors to match the facilities subsidy, the Maryland Stadium Authority, which did such an outstanding job on the two Camden Yards stadiums, should develop facilities at the fairgrounds that will not be held hostage by interests that do not care about horse racing.

Penn National and MID are not Maryland interests. They can hold us hostage only if we cave in to them.

James S. Kelly, Ellicott City

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